Managing interstitial cystitis (IC) usually involves making changes to many parts of your life; reducing stress where possible, making changes in what you eat, and how you exercise, and more. Whenever our bodies are changing there is going to be an impact on our experience of sexuality. And often living with something like IC means changing some aspects of how we have sex. There are no magic bullet solutions, and nothing is likely to completely remove the pain associated with IC, but here are some ideas on how to minimize the impact of IC on your sex life:
- In terms of diet, avoid spicy foods and acidic foods, reduce caffeine intake, and foods that are high in tryptophan, tyramine, or tyrosine including aged cheeses, chocolate, bananas, and red wine.
- Do regular kegel exercisesto relax and strength your pelvic floor muscles.
- Avoid having intercourse during a flare up (or when you think one’s coming).
- Take a hot bath and use a heating pad to provide some comfort from pain both before and after sex.
- Find sex positions that reduce pressure on the bladder and/or friction near the urethra depending on where you experience most of your pain.
- Pee before and after sex.
- Use additional personal lubrication.
- Be creative and open minded about where and when you have sex. Time sex for when you have the most energy in the day. If you’re making many trips to the bathroom, then have sex in the bathroom!
- Talk to your partner. Communicating about sexcould be the most important element in having a healthy and fulfilling sexual relationship.
- If your pain is related to stressed pelvic floor muscles, consider using a vibrator or series of vaginal dilators, to exercise and relax the muscles. Vibrators may be better because the vibration can encourage a relaxing of the muscles.
- Jill Osborne, founder of the Interstitial Cystitis Network recommends a relatively new CD which is a program of guided imagery specifically for women with pelvic pain and IC. You can learn more about the CD on the IC Network website .
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